Cabbage White

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The main photo is a Large White, photographed on a lovely lavender hedge one of my neighbours has planted outside their garden wall. Not a rarity, and not a butterfly that many people like – especially if they grow brassicas – but it’s my favourite shot of the day.

The extra shows a Small Skipper, and was taken in the butterfly field, which yesterday was living up to its name: at a very rough estimate there must have been over two hundred butterflies whizzing around it. This area in the middle of the village is left entirely untouched by its owner, and every year the population of insects seems to increase. Taking butterflies as an indicator, because they’re easy to identify: two years ago I spotted the first Marbled White here that I’d ever seen in the village, and today there were literally dozens of them; and last year I saw my first ever Brown Argus in this field, and Small Coppers appeared for the first time too. It also supports a large number of bees and hoverflies, and grasshoppers and crickets, and I’ve also seen some flies here that I’ve never noticed anywhere else.

By contrast, walking between this field and our house (where the garden is sufficiently “unimproved” to have been hosting at least nine at one point today), the only butterflies I saw were three on the lavender in the main image. Clearly it’s not for me to tell other people how to organise their gardens, but in my highly unscientific survey it seemed to me that the local butterflies are not favouring flower beds, but quite like lavender, and adore weeds – specifically, clover and bramble, but also the red valerian that grows all along our garden wall, and which R detests (not unreasonably at the moment, because it’s looking horribly shabby), but has given up trying to talk me into getting rid of. My pitch would be: if you want butterflies, sow wild flowers.